Pear Cake with browned butter and a hint of vanilla bean is perfect in it’s simplicity. It’s super easy to make yet is a totally satisfying treat that you’ll bake over and over again.
Why you’ll love this Pear Cake
This pear cake with vanilla bean embodies my ideal baked treat. The cake is rich from browned butter and an extra egg yolk, keeping the sweetness in check. The pears take the spotlight, with just enough batter to encase them as the cake bakes to perfection.
- Pears – I used bartlett pears because the light floral flavor works beautifully with vanilla. But any firm but ripe pear will do.
- Brown butter – Browning the butter adds an extra level of flavor to the cake.
- Vanilla bean – Vanilla is a wonderful flavor partner for the delicate flavor of pears. You could substitute 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, but I highly recommend using real vanilla bean for the best flavor.
- All purpose flour – Using a medium protein flour gives the cake enough gluten to hold in the pear chunks, but the crumb is still tender.
- Eggs – Adding an extra egg yolk to the batter enriches the cake.
- Granulated sugar – Sugar is sprinkled in the pan and on top of the cake for a crunchy crust.
How to make Pear Cake
- Whip the whites to full peak. Whisk in the yolks and vanilla.
- Sift the over the batter and gently fold it in.
- Fold just until all the flour is incorporated. Do not overmix.
- Pipe the cookies onto the prepared baking sheet into 4″ long x 2″ wide “fingers”.
- Lightly sprinkle the tops of the cookies with powdered sugar.
- Bake until light brown and spongy about 10-12 minutes. Cool completely.
- Cook the custard over medium/low heat, stirring constantly, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Pour the custard into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.
- Sandwich the ladyfingers with the preserves.
- Cut a ladyfinger sandwich in half, lengthwise.
- Stand the ladyfingers on end, with the cut side to the outside of a glass trifle bowl. Continue cutting and arranging the ladyfingers until the entire perimeter of the bowl is lined with a “striped” pattern.
- Use half of the remaining uncut cookies to the line bottom of the bowl. You can break them up to fit pieces into any gaps between the cookies.
- Sprinkle a ½ cup of the sherry over the cookies on the bottom and sides of the bowl. Pour half of the custard into the bowl. Arrange the remaining cookies over the custard and sprinkle with the remaining sherry.
- Pour the other half the custard into the bowl.
- Top the trifle with whipped cream and refrigerate at least 6 hours (preferably overnight) before serving.
- Butter the cake pan, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, then butter the parchment.
- Sprinkle sugar into the pan and roll it around to coat the pan.
- Save the excess sugar to top the cake.
- Melt the butter and cook until the milk solids are brown. Strain the browned butter into a small bowl.
- Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and stir them into the browned butter.
- Peel the pears. Slice a 1/4″ thick slice from the center of a pear (cut passed the core) then cut the rest into 1/2″ chunks.
- Whisk the eggs with the sugar to combine. Add the browned butter.
- Whisk to lighten the batter.
- Fold in the flour.
- Fold the pear chunks into the batter.
- It will look like there’s too much pear, but the batter will rise to enclose the fruit.
- Spread the batter into the pan.
- Place the pear slice on top.
- Sprinkle the top of the cake with the remaining sugar.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool 20 minutes before releasing the sides of the pan. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.
The cake is delicious slightly warm from the oven. The crust is most crisp the day it is baked, but the cake will keep 1-2 days at room temperature. Leftover slices can be frozen. After freezing the texture will be softer, but the cake will still be tasty.
More Pear Recipes
- Pear Pie
- Pear Frangipane Tart (Tart Bourdaloue)
- Pear Custard Tart
- Gingerbread Pear Upside Down Cake
- Pear Galette
If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.
Pear Cake Recipe
- 8 ounces granulated sugar (1 cup, divided)
- 2 pounds pears (about 3 large)
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- ½ vanilla bean (split)
- 5 ounces all purpose flour (1 cup, see note)
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Generously butter a 9" springform pan. Line the bottom with a parchment round if you have one and butter the parchment as well. Set aside ¾ cup of the 8 ounces granulated sugar. Sprinkle the other ¼ cup of the granulated sugar into the pan. Roll the sugar around in the pan to coat the butter with sugar. Pour out the excess sugar and reserve that excess sugar for topping the cake.
- Peel 2 pounds pears and cut them in halves. Cut out the cores. Cut a ¼" slice from the center of one pear, then chop the rest of the pears into ½" chunks. See process photos.
- Melt 4 ounces unsalted butter in a small saucepan. Cook until the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan and become brown. Drain the butter into a medium bowl, leaving the solids in the pan. Scrape the seeds from ½ vanilla bean and stir them into the browned butter. Set the butter aside to cool.
- In a small bowl sift together 5 ounces all purpose flour, ¾ teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon table salt.
- In a mixing bowl combine 2 large eggs, 1 egg yolk and ¾ cup granulated sugar. Whisk on medium speed until the eggs are combined. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in the browned butter and mix for 2-3 minutes to emulsify and aerate the batter.
- Fold the flour into the egg mixture. Fold in the chopped pears. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pear slice in the middle of the cake. Sprinkle with the granulated sugar left from coating the pan.
- Bake about 45 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before releasing the sides of the pan. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.
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